A Monday morning MRI exam confirmed the Jets' worst fears, leaving their struggling defense without its best player. Revis will wait two to three weeks before having the surgery, the team said. The usual recovery time for ACL surgery is six to nine months.
A somber Rex Ryan made the announcement at his noon news conference, admitting he had a hunch the MRI would reveal bad news after talking with a downcast Revis on the team's flight home from South Florida. He said the team doctor indicated after the game it was likely a significant injury.
"Is it a major blow when you lose a great player like Darrelle Revis? Of course, absolutely it is," Ryan said. "But this is a football team."
Ryan stopped short of saying Revis will be placed on season-ending injured reserve, but that's only a formality at this point. The Jets made a flurry of roster moves Monday, leaving them with 52 players. There will be a second opening once they put Revis on IR.
Revis, who returned to action Sunday after missing Week 2 with a concussion, was injured late in the third quarter of the Jets' 23-20 overtime win over the Miami Dolphins.
It was a non-contact injury on the grass surface; his left knee buckled as he tried to get into position to tackle running back Daniel Thomas on a screen pass. Revis went down on a cut block by center Mike Pouncey, but the injury occurred before the block, according to Ryan.
"It's terrible. It's terrible for us and it's terrible for him," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "It's football. It's next man up."
2010 first-round pick Kyle Wilson, the nickelback, will replace Revis in the starting lineup. Beyond Wilson and fellow starter Antonio Cromartie, the Jets are thin at cornerback. Ellis Lankster moves into the No. 3 role -- for now.
"We're fortunate because we've got the best in the league in Darrelle and we also have a No. 1 corner in Cromartie," said Ryan, adding, "I'm confident in Kyle."
Wilson, who worked out with Revis the last two offseasons and looks up to him, said he'll remain in touch with Revis, relying on him for advice.
"I always pick that guy's brain," Wilson said. "He's obviously pretty good."
But it will be almost impossible to replace Revis, a three-time All-Pro selection. He routinely covers the opponents' No. 1 wide receiver, often shutting him down and allowing the coaches to employ aggressive blitzing schemes. Revis is so good that he allowed only one touchdown pass in 2011.
Ryan, who calls Revis and Deion Sanders the two best cornerbacks he's ever seen, reluctantly admitted he probably will have to tweak his defensive approach without his top corner. He called it "a personal challenge" for him and his defensive staff, saying, "Any coach worth his salt always takes things personally."
Ryan addressed the Revis injury in the team meeting, according to several players. It's unusual for him to bring up an injury in front of the team, but this was more than a routine injury. Ryan preached the next-man-up mantra, trying to rally the team.
The problem is, the Jets' defense, which Ryan predicted would finish in the top five for the fourth straight year, is off to a poor start. It's ranked 21st in total yards allowed, struggling against the run (28th). Stopping the run usually is the hallmark of a Ryan-coached defense.
"You don't think about the guy Darrelle is covering because you just assume Darrelle will have him blanketed," linebacker Aaron Maybin said. "Now the margin for error is a little smaller because the quarterback will be taking peeks over there."
Revis has missed only three games in five-plus seasons due to injury, including two games in 2010 due to a pulled hamstring. Without him on the field, the Jets have never intercepted a pass, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Without him in Week 2, the Jets surrendered 275 passing yards and two touchdowns to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. On Sunday, his absence was felt immediately. Dolphins wide receiver Davone Bess, held to one reception by Revis over the first 41 minutes, caught four passes for 63 yards after the injury.
Amid the gloom, Ryan tried to turn the adversity into a rallying point, insisting his team would find a way to overcome Revis' absence. He said he hasn't allowed himself an "oh, no" moment.
"Never happens," he said. "We have enough to get it done here."
The Jets (2-1) are in first place in the AFC East, but Ryan didn't sound like a first-place coach.